It seems that when the economy is good, private sector employment is much more lucrative, but when the economy tanks, the public slice of employment seems far better.
The reason is that the private employers are quick to react to bad times by paring benefits, decreasing hours, eliminating overtime while assigning extra work, and laying off large numbers of workers.
The public sector is years slower in adopting these measures - so while private sector workers are seeing their pay shrink, their hours increasing for no extra money etc, etc, etc.....the public sector employees are largely immune.
That is not to say there are not layoffs and reductions in the public sector - there are. But they represent a much smaller proportion.
In my town, the DPW has eliminated a position, leaving two highly paid equipment operators without a job. The town is keeping them on the payroll - saying that to lay them off would only save the community $15,000 because they would be able to get unemployment for some 96 weeks - so they will be kept around in case they are needed somewhere else in the village!
Two issues pop out at me.
1. The men are being kept on the books because they would be collecting unemployment for 96 weeks. This supposes that these workers are of so little value that they cannot find another job in a whole year and a half!!!!!
2. To lay them off would only save $15,000. The last time I checked, that was still a fair piece of money. Enough to give back one dollar to each citizen in the community. And what if 15 or 20 town departments could each save 15 or 20 thousand dollars. It would begin to add up to some real money.
But what the heck...it's only 15 thousand dollars of the public's money.